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Witness Statement: Ali Kantoori

46. To sentence a defendant charged with serious crimes, a judge must have credible evidence. My judge [at 104 branch of Santander General Court], however, had no evidence or testimony against me for the fifteen year sentence, except his own personal knowledge.5 I have documents to prove this fact. The person who had been kidnapped was brought in, and he said that he had never seen me. The fifteen year sentence was based on a frivolous charge.

47. I was involved with NGOs. I was a member of Students for Freedom and Equality. Acting against national security, propaganda and conspiracy were the charges that the Islamic Republic leveled against me and my friends. I was imprisoned for these accusations.

Flight from Iran

 

48. I left Iran in mid-March 2010. I left because the fifteen year sentence was handed down immediately after the thirty two month sentence had been reduced to four months. I consulted with my friends about what I should do next. All my friends suggested that I leave Iran, but I decided to stay. My rationale for staying was as follows: I had a thirty two month sentence, five months of which I had already served after being arrested. Moreover, each day in solitary confinement counts as three days. This meant that my sentence would be reduced to about two years. In an authoritarian country, any person who sets goals for his or her civil or political activities accepts the risk of being imprisoned and all the awful things that go with it.

49. I had made plans for my time in prison. At that time, I felt that my English was not good, and I could work on it while in prison. I also could read a number of classics that I had not yet read. But the fifteen year sentence made me lose my concentration. I had no guarantees for my life or safety. Then, I was informed that the trial court had issued an order which put my sentence into effect.

50. Being imprisoned was not very important to me, but my life was threatened. I didn’t think I would survive prison. I left Iran a few days before Nowruz 2010. I was prohibited from leaving Iran. I was in the mountains for a week. I was taken to a place that was 500 miles away from the Turkish border. They told me that I was on my own, and that I should cross the border by myself. They came and picked me up when I was two kilometers inside Turkey.

51. I feel a lot of distress when I remember these things.

5 According to the Islamic Penal Code, which is in effect in Iran, in a number of situations a judge can rely on his own knowledge and understanding for his rulings.

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Tagged as:

Imprisonment, Torture, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, Punishment, Personal Liberty, Arbitrary Detention, Illegal Search and Seizure, Witness Statements